Tuesday, January 11, 2011


New BRUNCH recipe in our new location!

Monday, December 20, 2010

We're moving!

RD3 is in the process of moving!
See new recipes and updates at...


...while I figure out how to redirect the domain name :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Those cupcakes make me wanna say...

Berry "Sorbet" filled Devil's Food Cupcakes

Jumping on the bandwagon, I've gotten much delight over the past year from experimenting with cupcakes. Why cupcakes? Here's the thing: I am a great baker. Whatever the dough or batter, my baked goods always come out of the oven perfectly moist, beautiful and satisfying. The other side of that coin is that I am so (so) bad at decorating. With an art background, you'd think that would be my forte. Alas, for me cake decorating is an acquired skill and not a talent. The great thing about cupcakes is that if one isn't perfect, there's room for 11 more to come out prettily. Really, its just a matter of surface area.

Unfortunately, when it comes to frosting, fondants, and ganache I invariably screw something up. I heat too quickly. I whip when I should have folded. I add something that's the wrong temperature... whatever the mishap, there always seems to be something that tanks. Baking cupcakes is always a lesson in mindfulness and radical acceptance for me. It is a meditative practice that schools me in patience. It is also a wage of war. I had envisioned these cupcakes- I could almost taste them - to be little, beautiful, bites of wintery love. But, as they say, love is a battlefield.

After the cupcakes themselves came out of the oven pristine, without a crack or dent, cooked to succulent perfection, I also had on my hands one batch of botched ganache without enough ingredients (or time) remaining for a do-over, and one bowl of over-whipped cream (which became a raspberry flavored soupy mess after I whipped in the raspberries instead of folding them).

It was a baking "Hail Mary" to resort to buttercream. With clothes and face covered in chocolate and frosting, I ran out to the store. Returning with a bag of confectioner's sugar and a prayer, I finished the job. It only took 3 hours, but the end result was simply meant to be. The cupcakes were filled with a berry-cognac buttercream, which tasted like berry sorbet (Casey said, "If it tastes like sorbet, its okay to eat it with a spoon, right?"). Due to the ganache fail, they were simply topped with powdered sugar and a raspberry. If you could taste Valentine's Day, I guarantee you it would taste like these cupcakes.

Some were for a party, and two were for a birthday. Two more mysteriously disappeared from my mother's counter, and I have it on good authority that one was eaten for breakfast this morning, nothing but a powdery trail of sugar left on a dresser.

The recipe for the Devil's Food Cake came from Food Network Kitchens.
While your cupcakes are in the oven, prepare your frosting.

Berry Sorbet Buttercream Frosting
1 cup mixed Blackberries and Raspberries
1/4 cup Cognac
1 stick (1/4 lb) Unsalted Butter
1 box Confectioner's Sugar
1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

1) In a small pot over medium-low heat, cook the berries in the cognac, stirring regularly.

2) Once the berries break down, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture reduces and becomes syrupy.

3) Place the berry mixture in a bowl and place in the refrigerator until cool.


4) With an electric mixer, mix the chilled berry sauce and butter until whipped and thoroughly combined.

(If you are using a Kitchen-Aid mixer, fit it with the paddle and not the balloon whisk).

5) With the mixer at a medium speed add the confectioner's sugar 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting is thick and holds together tightly.

6) Stir in mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Assembling Your Cupcakes!

1) Using a paring knife at a 45-degree angle, make a circular cut in to the top of your cupcake.

2) Remove the cone section you just cut from the cupcake and cut off the excess cake from the piece, creating a "lid" for your cupcake. Sometimes I make a little notch while I'm making the first cut, that way I can tell how the lid goes back on.

3) Use your knife to hollow out a little more of the inside of the cupcake (this gives you more room for frosting if you want it).

4) Using a teaspoon, spoon frosting in to the cupcake. Just be careful no to fill it too high, otherwise you'll have some trouble fitting the lid back on.

5) Replace the lid and press down to try to eliminate any seams (this doesn't always work so well, which is why I was going to initially cover my cupcakes with ganache).

6) Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Use a dab of frosting to glue a raspberry to the center.

So pretty! Even more tasty. Keep a close watch, they tend to disappear quickly!

Monday, December 6, 2010

How Jenny Got Her Groove Back

Well, happy holidays ladies and gents! So many things a-brewin'... Not that this is out of the norm. The past few months have been working, working, and more working. School, school, and more school! And finally, it all seems to be winding down.

For a long time I wasn't doing a lot of cooking, which is a little strange (believe me, I know). Then, by no uncertain circumstances, a southern gent enters my life and all of a sudden the pots and casserole dishes are full, the kitchen-aid mixer is spinning, and there is sauce all over the place.
With the upsurge in tastiness and recipes, it was without question that posting would have to resume. And oh, how I've missed you. So, without further ado, commence romanticizing!

Bernard is from New Orleans. That's how this all started. While he was down spending time with his family over Thanksgiving he visited the Cafe du Monde, a market whose reputation precedes it. Known nationally (and probably internationally) for its 'coffee and chicory', and beignets (read: fried dough!), I was the happy recipient of a gift basket containing the mix they use to make aforementioned beignets. I don't know if Bernie was aware of my affinity forputting things together, but there was no way I was just going to hang out with my mom and fry dough. Oh no, this was a flour-filled catalyst.

The solution? I decided to make jambalaya for dinner for my family + Bernie, and we could fry up the beignets for dessert. I consulted the few southern friends that I have, as well as innumerable websites, to put together what I thought would be an authentic jambalaya. As it turns out, it came out great! Everyone enjoyed it, and even the southerner was impressed with my first-time attempt.

We stuffed ourselves with jambalaya and made a huge mess making (and eating) beignets. Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time, which naturally made me happy! I love the way food brings people together. I was going to throw on some zydeco music, but Casey shot that idea down pretty quickly. Baby steps for us Yankees!

I'd recommend jambalaya as a main dish to anyone. It is warm, filling, and packs a punch of flavor. It's just one of those "man, that was satisfying" dishes. Plus, you can throw almost anything in it. I made mine with andouille, chicken, and shrimp. This one is definitely going on the frequent flier list!

(I apologize in advance for the lack of photographs! They will come eventually.)

Jenny's "Collective" Jambalaya

2 tblsp Olive Oil
2 tblsp Unsalted Butter
1 Whole Chicken, cut in to pieces
1 lb. Andouille Sausage, sliced (I used Chicken Andouille)
1 lb Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 Yellow Onion, minced
1 Green Pepper, minced
4-5 stalks Celery, minced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tblsp Cajun Seasoning (See Below)
3 Bay Leaves
1 cup White or Brown Rice
4 cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped

There are a lot of reputable pre-mixed Cajun seasonings out there. Papaw Tom's and Zatarains have come most highly recommended. I'd also encourage you to check out the happiest place on earth: Penzy's Spices.

If you want to make your own, the gist is this:
Equal parts of: Black pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I went a little nuts and used smoked paprika and extra cayenne pepper.

1) In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and a little of the seasoning and place in the heated oil skin side down. Brown the chicken until the fat renders and the skins are crispy. Put a lid on the dutch oven so it cooks almost completely.

2) Remove the chicken from the dutch oven. Remove the skins and cut the meat off the bones in to small pieces. Set aside.

3) Add the andouille to the dutch oven in a single layer so they get browned and a little crispy on each side. Remove and set aside with the chicken.

4) Add the butter to the dutch oven. Saute the garlic, celery, pepper, and onion until the onion is soft and translucent.

(Aside: The celery-bell pepper-onion combination is referred to as the 'holy trinity' and is the cornerstone of a lot of Cajun recipes).

5) Return the chicken and andouille to the dutch oven. Add the Cajun Seasoning, a little salt, cracked black pepper, bay leaves, and rice. Saute for a few more minutes to integrate all of the flavors.

6) Add enough chicken stock to cover the "dry" ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on it, and check to stir intermittently, adding more chicken stock if it becomes too thick.

7) When the rice is al dente (about 30 minutes), add the shrimp. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the shrimp and the rice are tender.

Serve in generous bowls with fresh parsley! If I had more time, I would have made some corn bread to go with it. I don't know if that's authentic, but it sounds like it would have been a tasty compliment! This is the definition of soul food... full bellies and not a frown in the house!

In the words of the amazing Roisin (one of my trusted sources),
Good luck and laissez les bons temps rouler!

P.S. If you don't have a sweetheart from New Orleans to bring you beignet mix back from family visits, you can order it from the Cafe du Monde website!

Check out my awesome new mug!